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by inKin
16 Sep

The Best Super Foods A-Z: K Is For Kale

Kale often gets a bad rap because of its signature bitter taste, but we love it- packed with nutrients and antioxidants, it lives up to its name as the superfood of the century. Some people steer clear of this leafy green because of its strong flavor, but we think it's an asset, especially when you prepare it right.

 

What is Kale?

This leafy vegetable is from the same plant family as broccoli, brussels sprouts, and cabbage. There are a few different types, each with distinct leaves that stand out from the rest of the produce aisle. Curly kale is the most common type of kale you'll find at grocery stores. You'll recognize it from its distinct curly green leaves and tough stems. This kind of kale has a peppery, tangy, and bitter flavor. Dino kale is another common variety- it has thin, dark green, wrinkled leaves that are easier to eat raw. Finally, redbor kale is a gorgeous purple variety with curly leaves. This one is best eaten cooked. It's a little too dense to enjoy raw and cooking it will help bring out the flavor. 

Kale vs. Spinach

Spinach is another powerful green superfood, but it's not related to kale at all- it's related to beets. While it may have a milder taste than kale, kale packs more nutrients and will last longer in your fridge. Spinach is a great source of iron, while kale has high levels of vitamin C and K. Both of these vegetables are worth incorporating into your diet.

 

Benefits 

1. It helps lower cholesterol

Kale has high levels of lutein- a plant pigment that's been shown to prevent the buildup of cholesterol in the body.

 

2. It's full of antioxidants

Kale has carotenoids and flavonoids, two types of antioxidants. Antioxidants are molecules that fight free radicals in the body, which have been linked to heart disease, Parkinson's Disease, and Alzheimer's. 

 

3. It reduces risk of cancer

Research has shown that organosulfur compounds inhibit cancer. These compounds can be found in garlic, onion, and the cabbage family, which includes kale.

 

4. It's packed with Vitamin C

We usually associate vitamin C with oranges, but kale has a lot more of the nutrient than oranges do. Just a single serving of kale contains more than the daily amount recommended for human intake. Vitamin C helps the body absorb iron, boost our immune system, and keep our skin wrinkle-free. 

 

5. It's also full of vitamin K

Vitamin K is a lesser-known vitamin that helps keep our bones strong and our blood clotting correctly. It can be found in other leafy vegetables like spinach and lettuce, but it's found in kale in the highest amounts

 

6. It can help you lose weight

This vegetable is particularly high in fiber and low in calories- a perfect recipe to aid in weight loss. It'll fill you up and reduce hunger without adding too many calories to your daily intake.

 

Tips on Consuming Kale

Kale is exceptionally high in indigestible plant fiber, which can be hard on your stomach when eaten raw in large quantities. Stick to the occasional salad or smoothie with the vegetable raw to prevent side effects like stomach pain and bloating. If you do prefer to eat it raw, you can massage the leaves with lemon juice or some other acidic substance to help break down the tough fiber and make it easier to digest. 

If you find the taste of kale to be a little intense for your palette, don't give up on the vegetable. There are plenty of easy recipes to prepare kale in a way that you'll love, like this one.

 

Kale Chips

This is one of the simplest ways to fall in love with kale. It works best with curly kale, but you can use any variety that you have on hand. 

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Sea salt to taste
  • 1 head of washed kale

Instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 275 degrees.
  2. Remove the stems from the kale and cut into 1.5 inch pieces
  3. Toss kale with olive oil and salt
  4. Bake until crisp, about 20 minutes.
  5. Serve immediately.

 

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